Robert? Evans

Spouse: *****

Child-1: Thomas, Sr.
          2: Samuel G.
          3: Mary Martha?

Biographical Details:

The surname “Evans” is a patronymic formed by the addition of a terminal “s” to the Welsh masculine proper name “Evan”, which is a cognate of the English name “John”, the German name “Johann”, and many other forms.1  All of these descend from ancient Hebrew forms,“Yohanan” or “Yochanan”, through Greek and Latin forms “Ioannes” and “Johannes”, respectively, and have a root meaning something like “gracious gift of Jehovah (or Yahweh)”.  Of course, the popularity of the name primarily derives from two individuals mentioned frequently in the Gospels, namely, John, the Baptist, and Jesus’ “beloved disciple”, John, the son of Zebedee.  Evidently, the Jewish forms corresponded to common masculine names of first century Palestine because in addition to copious references to the preceding two persons, the New Testament also mentions three other individuals as having the name, viz., the father of the disciple, Simon Peter, cf., John 21:15-7; a prominent member of the high priest’s family, cf., Acts 4:6; and the companion of Paul and Barnabbas, John Mark, cf., Acts 12:25 & 13:5.  Accordingly, “John” in its various forms has been and remains one of the most common proper names in all regions of the world influenced by Christianity.  When transliterated into the Welsh language, the Latin form became “Ieuan”, which has an approximate pronunciation “Y-eye-an”.  Moreover, in Wales patronymic names began to be replaced by true surnames in the fifteenth century.  It is not surprising that this corresponds with increased English influence and control of Wales itself.  Nevertheless, because of social stratification surnames were used at first only by members of the upper class and patronymic naming persisted into the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries among the lower classes.  Indeed, examples of the practice can be found even as late as the nineteenth century.  However, patronymic naming was generally not continued by Welsh immigrants to the English colonies of North America.  Hence, any descendants of a Welsh immigrant to America originally having the patronymic name “ap Evan” (meaning “son of Evan”) would very likely have become known by the surname “Evans”.  Alternatively, conversion of the patronymic into a surname could just as well have occurred prior to immigration.  In any case, “Evans” is a characteristic Welsh family name and remains a very common, perhaps, the most common, surname in Wales even at the present time.  Of course, such a status implies that it cannot be assumed that any two individuals both having the surname “Evans” are descended from a common male ancestor.  Indeed, there must be hundreds or thousands of distinct lineages that go back to some ancestor bearing the proper name “Evan” (or its archaic form “Iefan”).

No substantiated biographical details are known for the parents of Thomas, Sr., and Samuel G. Evans.  However, the names John and Robert Evans appear in a 1736 listing of “all titheables below Deep Creek” for Amelia County, Virginia.2  One of these individuals may be the father of Thomas and Samuel Evans, but this is far from proven and is merely a hypothesis arising solely from proximate locality.  Likewise, the further possibility that Martha Evans, who was present at the massacre of Captain James Moore and members of his family in 1786, was the sister of Thomas and Samuel Evans arises solely from tentative identification of the Thomas Evans mentioned in the various accounts of these events with the husband of Jane Howerton.3,4  Again, this remains to be proven.  Within this context, it has been frequently asserted that Robert Evans was married to either Mary or Agnes Hoge.5

Source Notes and Citations:
1. Patrick Hanks (ed.), Oxford Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, periodically updated.  (Available electronically at www.oxford-americanfamilynames.com)
     “Welsh: patronymic from the personal name Iefan (see Evan), with redundant English patronymic -s.”
     “English, Welsh, German, etc.: ultimately from the Hebrew personal name yo?hanan ‘Jehovah has favored (me with a son)’ or ‘may Jehovah favor (this child)’.  This personal name was adopted into Latin (via Greek) as Johannes, and has enjoyed enormous popularity in Europe throughout the Christian era, being given in honor of St. John the Baptist, precursor of Christ, and of St. John the Evangelist, author of the fourth gospel, as well as others of the nearly one thousand other Christian saints of the name.  Some of the principal forms of the personal name in other European languages are Welsh Ieuan, Evan, Siôn, and Ioan; Scottish Ia(i)n; Irish Séan; German Johann, Johannes, Hans; Dutch Jan; French Jean; Italian Giovanni, Gianni, Ianni; Spanish Juan; Portuguese João; Greek Ioannes (vernacular Yannis); Czech Jan; Russian Ivan.  Polish has surnames both from the western Slavic form Jan and from the eastern Slavic form Iwan.  There were a number of different forms of the name in Middle English, including Jan(e), a male name (see Jane); Jen (see Jenkin); Jon(e) (see Jones); and Han(n) (see Hann).  There were also various Middle English feminine versions of this name (e.g. Joan, Jehan), and some of these were indistinguishable from masculine forms.  The distinction on grounds of gender between John and Joan was not firmly established in English until the 17th century.  It was even later that Jean and Jane were specialized as specifically feminine names in English; bearers of these surnames and their derivatives are more likely to derive them from a male ancestor than a female.  As a surname in the British Isles, John is particularly frequent in Wales, where it is a late formation representing Welsh Siôn rather than the older form Ieuan (which gave rise to the surname Evan).  As an American family name this form has absorbed various cognates from continental European languages.  (For forms, see Hanks and Hodges 1988.) It is used as a given name among Christians in India, and in the U.S. has come to be used as a surname among families from southern India.”
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2. List of all Titheables Below Deep Creek in 1736, Library of Virginia, Richmond, VA,  (microfilm: roll - Amelia Co. #55).  (Steve Light (tr), Amelia County VAGenWeb Archives, www.rootsweb.com/~vaamelia/ameltith.htm, 1997.)  The list was taken by Abraham Green and covers roughly the southern two-thirds of Amelia County.  Prior to 1734, this area was part of Prince George County and after 1753, it was largely included in Prince Edward County.
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3. Ethel Evans Albert, Southwest Virginia Kin - Vol. 1 , privately published, Kingsport, TN, 1977: pgs. 482 & 527-31.
     “Robert Evans of Tazewell County, Virginia:  Born possibly ca 1727.  Died ca 1800, Tazewell County, Va.”
     Ms. Albert as well as other researchers indicate that this Robert Evans was born in Cecil County, Maryland, and then moved to or lived in Frederick, Augusta, Botetourt, Montgomery, and finally Tazewell Counties in Virginia where he died in about 1800.  His wife is thought to have been Mary Hoge and their son to have been, James Evans, who was the father of General Robert Morgan Evans for whom the town of Evansville, Indiana, is named.  However, although both a Thomas and a Martha were identified as heirs and, therefore, as children of Robert Evans in his will probated in Tazewell County in 1802, there was no Samuel mentioned.  Moreover, Martha’s married name was given as Ommer and other researchers have identified her husband as Michael Hummer or Hammer (Ommer, Hummer, and Hammer are likely variant spellings of the same surname).  Concomitantly, it has been further reported that they were married in Scott County, Kentucky, on December 31, 1793.  Within this context, many researchers identify this Thomas and Martha Evans as the persons involved in the events surrounding the massacre of Captain James Moore and his family in 1786.
     However, in contradiction to this identification, Ms. Albert also indicated elsewhere that: “3 Aug 1789: Mary Martha Evans, daughter of Robert Evans, married John Step, Montgomery Co., Va.  Martha was captured  by Indians while at the home of James Moore II.  It was assumed that the mother of Robert Evans was a sister to James Moore the elder.  This would make James Moore II and Robert Evans first cousins, thus accounting for Martha Evans being at the home of James Moore II at the time of the Indian raid.”  This suggests that the Martha Evans that married Michael Hummer was not the person captured by Indians at the home of James Moore, although it seems reasonably well established that she was, indeed, the aunt of General Robert Morgan Evans.  Furthermore, if the father of Mary Martha Evans Step was also named Robert Evans, then he should not be identified with the testator, Robert Evans of Tazewell County.  Therefore, it is possible that he was the individual listed in the 1736 Titheable List for Amelia County and also the father of Thomas (later married to Jane Howerton) and Samuel G. Evans.  Obviously, confusion of these identities arises because of the unfortunate convergence of the common given names, Robert, Thomas, and Martha, in combination with the common surname, Evans.  Of course, all of this is debatable and for resolution will require the discovery of additional documentary evidence if it exists.
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4. “In the name of God, amen, I Robert Evans of the County of Tazewell and State of Virginia being somewhat ailing in body but of sound mind and calling to mind mortality knowing that it is appointed once to die, so make, ordain, and constitute this my last Will and Testament, and do hereby make void and of none effect all Wills and Testaments by me made heretofore and first I recommend my soul to God and my body to be buried at the descretion of my executor and my just debts and funeral charges being paid.  I allow my worldly goods to be disposed of in manner following (As for the deed that they say is made to James Evans for the land I now live on was done against my will, and the power of attorney I gave to Thomas Shannon, William and Loe Brown I frequently forbid before the conveyance was made, I being in a delirious situation at the time - which I now revoke).  First, I leave Mary, my beloved wife, her third and dowery that me and my wife shall have our maintenance while we live by any two of my children we choose to live with and after our decease the whole estate to be equally divided amongst my children namely James Evans, Jereta Outhouse, Thomas Evans, Martha Ommer, William Evans, Dorothy Blead, Robert Evans, David Evans and Moses Evans; and I do appoint and constitute John Stafford of Wythe County and Joseph Oney of Montgomery County executors of this my last Will and Testament.  In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal this 6th day of December 1800.  /s/Robert Evans (seal)  Sealed, signed & delivered in presence of Samuel Walker, James Bane and Jos. Allen.”
     According to Ms. Ethel Evans Albert and internal evidence this will was written December 6, 1800,  probated February 11, 1802, and was proven by Samuel Walker and James Bane.  (Will Bk. 1, Tazewell Co., VA, pg. 10.)  (cited op. cit. (E. E. Albert): pg. 482.)
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5. David E. Johnston,  A History of Middle New River Settlements and Contiguous Territories, Standard PTG. & Pub. Co., Huntington, WV, 1906, App. C, pg. 413.
     “James, the third son (of William and Barbara Hume Hoge), of the descendants of whom this narrative will especially treat, and who has been said by one in writing of him, to be a ‘man eminent for his clear understanding, devout fear of God, and the love of the Gospel of Christ,’ was married twice;  the name of the first wife was Agnes, the second Mary, their maiden names unknown;  the records of Frederick County show that he and his wife Agnes join in a deed in 1748, and that he and his wife Mary in a deed in 1758.  He and his wives are buried in old Opequon graveyard, he having died June 2nd, 1795.  His first wife, Agnes, gave him two sons, John and James, and a daughter, who was the mother of General Robert Evans, founder of  Evansville, Indiana, and of Mattie Evans, one of the captives of Abb’s Valley.  John, the eldest son, becoming dissatisfied with his father’s marriage, left home and was never definitely heard from afterward, though he was supposed to have been killed in Braddock’s defeat on the Monongahela.”
     Various researchers have identified the wife of Robert Evans as Agnes Hoge, daughter of James and Agnes Crawford Hoge; however, it is evident from the preceding will that her given name was “Mary”.  Moreover, according to Johnston, she was the mother of Robert M. Evans, for whom the town of Evansville, Indiana, was named.  However, he was born in Frederick County, Virginia, in 1783 and other evidence convincingly confirms that he was the son of James and Elizabeth McMillan Evans, James being the elder Robert’s brother.  Within this context, one could speculate that inconsistencies could be removed if the wife of Robert Evans was actually named “Mary Agnes”; however there is no support for such a presumption.  Concomitantly, it would seem that confusion regarding the names “Agnes” and “Mary” likely derives from wives of James Hoge in the previous generation.  Even so, it is widely asserted that the second wife of James Hoge was Nancy Griffith (or Griffiths) rather than Mary and, moreover, although many secondary sources indicate that Agnes was the first wife, documentary records apparently exist which indicate that this marriage order may not be correct.  Clearly, the sources seem hopelessly garbled.  (Larry Kinyon (tr), www.kinyon.com/westvirginia/midnewriver/title.htm, 2000.)
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Additional Citations:

6. John Simpson (chief ed.), Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, continuously updated.  (Available electronically at dictionary.oed.com)

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